Remembering Soul Jah Love: He Died Bearing Emotional Scars
Soul Musaka was just a troubled “Soul Jah Loved.” When it was confirmed that Zimdancehall star Soul Jah Love had died on this day two years ago, music fans were stunned.
The gifted chanter succumbed to diabetes-related complications at Mbuya Dorcas Hospital aged 31, plunging the entertainment sector into mourning. Sauro, as the Highfield-bred lyricist was affectionately-known, had in his short but glittering career, words for nearly every life situation and topic.
He was an artiste with talent which was hard to describe, but easy to feel. Some described it like a romantic novel, a display of utopian perfection with minimal effort.
The ease with which he created music out of nothing was unparalleled, but sadly, not even the inspiration derived by many from his well-crafted art, could give him hope when he needed it the most.
He died bearing emotional scars. Soul Jah Love’s single “Ndichafa Rinhi,” released hours after the star’s death, mirrored a man who passed away bearing emotional wounds.
It summarised the life of a young man who had given up on life, owing to rejection, public condemnation and loneliness. In the song, he talks of how people who once idolised him ended up ridiculing him, while those who once looked up to him and scrambled to associate with him, ended up jibbing at him.
He talks of overburdening those close to him, hence death being the only “way out.” The pain in the line “ . . . mwana handina . . .” reflected emotional agony driven by reality that the woman he loved the most and tried in vain to have a child with for years (fellow artiste Bounty Lisa), was now a mother.
To make matters worse, Bounty Lisa was now living happily with another man. That on its own must have been depressing for the “Ndini Uya Uya” hit maker, a song that put him on the limelight. His last manager Kudzi “Junky” Ruwisi, details the denial people had at Mbuya Dorcas Hospital in acceptingthat Soul Jah Love had died.
“I went to Mbuya Dorcas Hospital after hearing that he had been admitted,” he said. “When I got there, the doctors, despite knowing me since I always took him there previously, refused to let me in. They insisted I should call his brother first.
“While calling the brother, I went outside and discovered that a few colleagues in the music were in the car park, already crying. They are the ones who told me that Jah Love was no more. But I refused to believe it.”
Ruwisi said the arrival of cars from various funeral parlours minutes later became a rude awakening and somewhat made him realise that Jah Love had really passed on.
“I remember seeing cars representing funeral homes arriving, nearly every funeral home I know was represented, with the hospital security battling to contain the situation because more people were also arriving as rumours of his death spread,” he said.
“His brother, who had just arrived, turned down all funeral homes and decided to carry the remains of Sauro with his car to the mortuary. “In fact, many people don’t know this, but we actually placed his body on a car seat, just like a normal person, because we had hope that he was still alive.
We drove his body to Fidelity Funeral Home and when we arrived, we told the mortuary staff to not rush in putting it in the mortuary. “The truth is, we did not believe that he was dead, because due to diabetes, many times he went unconscious and later woke up. But hours later we gave up, he was indeed no more.”
The watershed in Jah Love’s life, many believe, was his separation with his lover Bounty Lisa, a fact Ruwisi concurs with. “His separation with Bounty Lisa affected him greatly,” admits Ruwisi. “To begin with, Sauro believed diabetes for him was spiritual. He was diagnosed with the disease the same year his late twin brother was diagnosed with asthma.
“He believed one day upon deliverance he would get rid of it. But Bounty Lisa convinced him that it was a condition which he had to live with, hence he put him on a strict diet and made sure he always took his medication.
“So, when they split, logically, it greatly affected his life, that is why there was such a big difference in terms of his health. He did admit that he was to blame for their fallout, but I believe Soul Jah Love loved Bounty till the day he died.
“There was a time when he would indirectly talk about a possible reunion, but lost hope when she had a baby.” Ruwisi said Soul Jah Love’s life was a complex story which needed to be looked at with extensive eyes. “His life was complicated,” he said.
“The diabetes medication he took resulted in a lot of mood swings. The reason why many managers before me failed to handle him is because they struggled to understand the disease somehow controlled his life.
“He would be laughing and making noise, but be ill and sweating the next hour, so it was difficult to book him for shows in advance. “Also, Jah Love’s life was complicated because he believed he was always being fought spiritually.
“He rarely slept, he would tell me that every time he sleeps, he would feel as though someone was trying to steal something from him spiritually. Even when I checked on him at around 3am, he would be awake playing FIFA, he loved the game so much.”
Ruwisi reiterated that Soul Jah Love rarely composed songs, as most of his music came from things he experienced in his life. “I remember this one time we were chilled at his place,” he said. “He cooked food for everyone. We ate and started playing FIFA and all of a sudden he just switched off everything before we started talking about life.
“He just began to cry and asked to be taken to the studio, and that day he recorded the track “Kana Ndafa” and two other songs, on that same afternoon.”
Award-winning Zimdancehall producer Shelton “Sunshine” Masiwa, who produced “Ndichafa Rinhi”, as well as many of Jah Love’s hits including “Pamamonya Ipapo”, described the late chanter as a mastermind who was like no other.
“He was a genius whose creativity was unmatched,” he said. “He rarely wrote songs. He just sang about the things that happened in his life. “He was someone with his own kind of art, which was different from the rest. Sauro’s art, though many people will not believe it, kept Zim Dancehall afloat.
Soul Jah Love left a very big void in Zim Dancehall which will be very hard, if not impossible to fill.” Sunshine said the making of “Ndichafa Rinhi” was emotional. “He recorded the song and I just kept it, like many of his songs which I wanted to take my time working on,” recalls the producer.
“At some point, Sauro stayed with over 20 people at his place, but during his last days, he was alone. All those people abandoned him. “So, when I got a call that he had passed on, initially I didn’t believe it.
But when it was confirmed, that is when I remembered that he had a song which he was talking about his death, which I hadn’t finished working on. “I worked on it all night the day he died and I was very emotional. In fact, I have a lot of his songs which I haven’t released, but going over them makes me really sad.”
Sauro battled diabetes for years, but the chronic disease was not the only sickness which affected him. There is a growing public disaster of Zimbabwean adolescents using illicit substances and many believed Soul Jah Love was no exception.
A close friend of his, who spoke on condition of anonymity, admits the late chanter abused drugs although he confessed to hate them in his last days for their detrimental health effects. “Look, Chibaba had many problems in his life.
He had to deal with an unsupportive family, diabetes, not being a father and the societal ridicule which came as a result of it, as well as the separation with the love of his life,” explained the friend.
“As a result, he found comfort in drugs. I am not justifying the abuse of drugs, but simply telling you why he resorted to them.
“In fact, he even blamed himself for somewhat popularising crystal meth and said a few weeks before his death that he regrets it,” said the friend, adding that “a judgmental society made things worse for Jah Love, especially in his final days.” Soul Jah Love was declared a liberation war hero and buried at Warren Hills Cemetery.